Vilnius’ municipal council on Wednesday gave the green light for the city to sign an agreement with Lithuania’s centralized public property manager Turto Bankas on the refurbishment of the grounds of the capital’s Concert and Sports Palace, a now derelict building that was built during the Soviet era on the site of an old Jewish cemetery.
Under the draft agreement, the municipality would refurbish the grounds around the former Sports Palace and Turto Bankas would convert the building into a convention center by 2023.
“We have design plans ready to ensure that the grounds on the site of the former Jewish cemetery are refurbished with all due respect,” Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius told BNS.
The territory of the old Jewish cemetery in Snipiskes is a cultural property protected by the state. Some of it is owned by the municipality and the other part by Turto Bankas. The refurbishment of the grounds is estimated to cost 3.42 million euros.
According to the municipality, the refurbishment of the old cemetery’s grounds will involve installing footpaths, lawns with flower beds, and information signs, and carrying out other landscaping works.
The municipality says the project has been approved by the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe.
The idea of converting the Sports Palace, built in 1971, into a conference center has been nurtured since 2015.
Jewish organizations have differing views on the initiative.